Employee wellbeing has been placed high on the agendas of many business managers, but regularly working above contract hours, despite ill-health and in a culture of ‘soldiering on’ could mean that managers are ignoring their own wellbeing policies.
The Chartered Management Institute reported that 91 percent of UK managers who worked full time regularly worked in excess of their contract hours.¹ The findings show that 53 percent feel the hours they work have a negative effect on their health. Around 45 percent agree that the hours they work had a negative impact on their productivity, social lives and relationships with their partner¹; however, they still persist in working over their contract hours.
Many organisations offer work-life balance support in the form of flexible working, ² which is encouraging news given the context of the current economic climate. As well as helping out employees with young families; since the abolition of the default retirement age, it could also support older people back into work.
Generally, people view common illnesses, such as colds, headaches and back pain as not being serious enough to take time off work. Dr Jenny Leeser, Bupa Assistant Medical Director says: “Many people find it difficult to know when they are ill enough to be off work. But working with a fever or when made drowsy by pain killers is not going to do anyone any good.”
She continues: “Workplace pressure can affect everyone differently. For some employees it can be motivational; for others it can lead to physical symptoms such as headaches or muscular tension if not addressed early on, and these might cause absence. For some people the adverse effects of pressure can lead to depression and there is then potential for long-term absence."
When a manager soldiers on through illness or becomes angry with people too easily – as over 41 percent of managers surveyed in the CMI’s 2008 report did¹ – their resistance to taking time off or changing their own working practices could have a negative impact on their team.
With a better understanding of the impact ill health has on productivity, managers may begin to take their own health a little more seriously and make positive changes such as:
A healthier, more motivated team of employees is likely to see improvements in productivity not to mention lower rates of sickness absence. Of course, some employees are happy to work over and above standard working hours. A simple shift of emphasis, which measures the quality of the end result rather than intensive labours, could remove the need to work additional hours.
It may be difficult to change a long-hours working culture if it is firmly embedded within your business. If managers are reluctant to reduce their hours, they may turn to you for alternative support such as occupational health advice, personal counselling and flexible working. All of which could add real value to your existing health and wellbeing policy.
To find out how you can tailor our business health insurance to suit the healthcare needs and budget of your company call us on 08452 668 974*.
1 Chartered Management Institute (CMI). Quality of Working Life 2008. Date accessed 7 March 2012.
2 CBI. Absence and workplace health survey 2011. Date accessed – 9 March 2012. http://www.cbi.org.uk/media/955604/2011.05-healthy_returns_-_absence_and_workplace_health_survey_2011.pdf
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